Baynes proving to be a crucial piece for Brad Stevens and Celtics

There's a lot to like about this Boston Celtics team. Led by Kyrie Irving, there's a punchiness to the club's offense. And on the other side of the ball, the C's have emerged as one of the Association's best defences.

Six-year veteran Aron Baynes has been an exciting and critical part of the C's success. The Boomers big man's knack for staunch defense and work on the boards gives Boston an element of toughness that has been sorely lacking in recent years. This alone really can't be overstated, but in reality, Baynes represents much more for the C's. It's been a beautiful pairing for both sides.

All of Australia

One of Boston's biggest vulnerabilities in recent memory has been around the rim. Brad Stevens' club has struggled to defend the paint, establish an interior offensive attack, or consistently compete on the boards.

Al Horford is talented and crafty, sure, but he is much better suited at playing the four. This is why last season Boston was left playing an aging Amir Johnson or Tyler Zeller at center, and why the C's had such consistent problems down low. The Celtics simply haven't had a reliable, athletic big man in several years.

Baynes is different. He's deft enough to make plays down low, yet strong as an ox and tough as nails. This balance of skills has been key for the Celtics, and the coaching staff has taken notice.

Stepping up

What's made Baynes such a force in Boston is how he challenges opposing defenses. This was on display early in Boston earlier this week against Milwaukee. Right away, the Bucks attempted to trap Kyrie Irving on each Celtics possession. Baynes was essential in breaking through.

First, he and Irving ran a few successful pick and rolls that seemed to baffle Milwaukee. The Bucks had been so focused on containing, Irving, Jayson Tatum, and the rest of the Celtics, that a rolling Baynes was simply too much to handle. The big man scored several baskets early in the first period, even turning in a pair of assists.

This new threat proved fatal for the Bucks, however. In failing to anticipate an inside threat, Milwaukee was equally hard-pressed in adapting. Because trying to compensate and account for Baynes in their defensive scheme led to big errors.

This is why Baynes is so valuable for the Celtics. He gives them a new gear that no one else on the roster can offer. Boston's offense is usually predicated on a space and pace approach. But Brad Stevens also preaches versatility, and that's where Baynes comes in. It's not that he's always going to be a featured offensive pillar, but rather that he's proven reliable when Stevens needs to adapt his approach or counter an opponent's defense.

Just take a look at Baynes' most recent scoring outputs. Ten points on six shots against Milwaukee on Monday, but just one field goal against the 76ers the previous Thursday.

Again, Boston hasn't had a big man like Baynes in quite some time. And with Marcus Morris' underwhelming showing this season, what Aron can offer Brad Stevens is a big deal. It gives this Celtics team a new and effective way to win basketball games, and yet another resource for Stevens to play with.